Even when they are not billed as such, the "food-fast" recipes of Jacques Pepin are sure bets for a no-fuss meal. Here, he uses a minimum of ingredients to create an informal kind of souffle - no sauce base to cook and no beaten egg whites to fold in. A blender does the work. Just a little bit of poblano takes the corn and Gruyere cheese to different realm. The individual souffles will puff up in the oven and deflate a bit once served, but stay fairly firm.
What I like most about this recipe, though, is the way you can customize the individual portion sizes. Just pour from the blender jar into individual ramekins that match the appetites at your table. (The ones you see pictured range from 1/2- to 1-cup capacity.) The smaller ones may get a bit more browned and finish a few minutes sooner, so pull them out of the oven as needed. Serve them in their dishes or turn them out onto a salad. "That's it!" as the master chef likes to say.
Corn Souffle (Serves 4)
Easy ways to add heft to the souffle include an after-oven topping of fresh crabmeat, smoked mussels or steamed shrimp, or matchsticks of dressed jicama.
Serve with sauteed, minted snap peas or a colorful tomato salad.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 large ears fresh corn
1/4 poblano chile pepper
57g Gruyère cheese
3 large eggs
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
10 stems fresh chives
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Use the butter to grease the ramekins. Place them on a baking sheet.
Discard the husks and all silk of the corn. Use a sharp knife to cut the kernels off the cobs; reserve the cobs for making broth, if desired. You should have 2 1/2 to 3 cups of kernels, which you can transfer to a blender as you work.
Seed the poblano, then cut into small chunks and add to the blender. Cut the cheese into small chunks and add to the blender. Add the eggs, half-and-half, salt and pepper. Puree for about a minute, or until smooth.
Meanwhile, mince the chives. Add three-quarters of them to the souffle mixture and pulse just enough to incorporate.
Divide the souffle mixture among the souffle dishes. Scatter the remaining chives on top of each portion. Bake (middle rack, on the baking sheet) for 25 minutes, until puffed, golden brown on top and more set than jiggly. (If the dishes are different sizes, you may need to pull the smaller ones out after 20 minutes.)
Serve right away, in the souffle dishes.
Adapted from Jacques Pepin's "Heart and Soul in the Kitchen" (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015). Click here to purchase from Loot.co.za